Sepsis can be difficult to diagnose and often patients don’t realise they are suffering from the blood poisoning disease until it’s too late.
Julie Gwilliam, from Grimsby, developed sepsis from a six-week-long chest infection but today was reunited with the paramedics who were able to recognise the condition and administer vital antibiotics as part of an innovative pilot which saved her life.
Sepsis is time critical, it leads to shock, multiple organ failure and death if not recognised and treated early. With septic shock, the sooner antibiotics can begin working on the infection, the greater the chances of the patient surviving. When a person is in septic shock, their chance of survival decreases by 7.6 per cent for every hour an IV antibiotic is not given.
Paramedic Jane Oakley, who was enrolled on the pilot, immediately recognised the symptoms of sepsis – blood poisoning – and gave Julie an injection in her home which ultimately saved her life.
Julie said: “I had no idea how poorly I was. I hadn’t really heard about sepsis other than through a friend of mine who had a septic joint.
“I feel incredibly privileged because another day the pilot may not have been in place. I know I am alive today because of what that team did both from EMAS and the hospital and without the pilot it is unlikely that I would have survived.
“I am really looking forward to meeting Jane, I remember her talking through the pilot with me and making me feel so reassured that they were doing everything they could.“
The pilot, in conjunction with North Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Hospital Trust, saw 20 paramedics across North and North East Lincolnshire trained in administering an antibiotic injection to their patients who were assessed as having ‘red flag’ sepsis at the scene of the emergency.
Jon Chippendale, Clinical Development Lead at EMAS said: “For a patient in septic shock early antibiotic treatment is their best chance of survival. As an ambulance service we were confident that our clinicians could recognise patients in or approaching septic shock and swiftly and safely administer antibiotics at the earliest opportunity."
During the six month pilot, 90 patients received the treatment which on average was administered 70 minutes sooner.
Jon added: “By encouraging our paramedics to think sepsis and providing them with training and interventions we have been able to improve the outcome of patients like Julie.
“The vision is to continue this work across Lincolnshire and we are in talks with key stakeholders to deliver this.”
Adele Lloyd, sepsis specialist nurse at Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Sepsis is a time critical condition and the earlier it’s spotted the better chance of survival.
"Therefore it is vital that paramedics are able to spot the signs of a deteriorating patient.
"This training gives them the tools they need to be able to diagnose and recognise severe cases of sepsis meaning treatment can be started before the patient even gets to hospital.”